Several members of St James’ by the Park were involved with the Southampton Churches Winter Shelter project, which is led by Paul Woodman of City Life Church, Walati, an evangelist, and other Christians. 7 churches took turns to provide shelter for the homeless every night for four weeks beginning mid-January. A large number of volunteers were recruited and we all received training in safeguarding. Each day the arrivals shift of helpers set up the beds and prepared a meal for everyone. They prayed before the guests arrived for God to show his love and care to them, that their broken lives might be restored, that they might discover their real hope is in Jesus, and for his Spirit to rest on the venue. We prayed for ourselves to have sensitivity, strength and wisdom, and for safety and protection over the venue. We then welcomed the guests as they came in. Leisure time after the evening meal was filled with games and chat. The night shift arrived. They helped the guests to settle to their beds and stayed overnight with them. Next day the morning shift came to provide breakfast for everyone, to bid the guests farewell and then to pack away the beds. Each church was able to accommodate up to twelve people although the number there was usually smaller. The guests appeared to enjoy being at the various venues and they found the accommodation comfortable. This was an encouraging experience for the volunteers to be involved in - helping the homeless and collaborating with other Christians from across the city. We hope and pray this project will take place again in a similar form. (The organiser has said, ‘Everyone who was in our winter shelter has now received alternative accommodation.) Michael Meaton
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